I had my own radio station, WRAD, when I was a kid. My broadcast equipment included a microphone, mixer and tape deck.
By age 10, I sent a cassette several states away to Grandma, my No. 1 fan and underwriter. By age 11, I had a kit that used my house’s cold water pipes to broadcast a weak AM signal to the neighborhood. I was amazed when my first caller — Beth — dialed in to say she loved my station. I was an actual broadcaster, hooked on the rush of reaching an audience.
In adulthood, I hosted a morning show on an actual FM station. For five years straight, I’d roll out of bed and into the studio, talking about whatever mattered in the world or was mildly entertaining. The grocery store cashier even asked me if I was the guy from the radio.
Broadcasting as a medium has drastically changed since then. Almost anyone can be an international broadcaster. I have a blog, I tweet and I make the occasional video. I’m not on the radio, but I am a broadcaster. You probably are too. When we post pictures of lunch at that Thai place, make a comment about the weather or share Pinterest ideas, we are broadcasters.
Jesus covered a multitude of subjects in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) but didn’t specifically mention the proper stewardship of social media. Jesus’ teachings weren’t reported in the daily paper, but the news about Him spread everywhere.
When people encounter God in the flesh, they tend to talk openly about it. If the Crucifixion were to take place today, it’s likely someone would tweet about it. Today, many of the 500 or so people who saw Jesus after the Resurrection would update their Facebook statuses. If the original apostles had a Tumblr account, Peter may have posted the letters to the church online.
The limitations of papyrus meant that only the highlights were left in (John 20:30) whereas digital records are virtually inexhaustible. If Jesus and His followers had today’s social media at their ancient fingertips, how would the gospel accounts be enriched? How many more would’ve been baptized? How many more churches would’ve been planted?
Then again, maybe the gospel would’ve been lost amid tweets about celebrities, world events, opinions, celebrities, rants and celebrities. Maybe God knew exactly what He was doing in sending the Son at the right time in human history for the gospel to go out in Holy Spirit power to affect people in such a profound way that multiple generations continue to spread the good news — not because of a cursory glance at a screen, but because they experienced the transcendent in the margins of their lives.
Our faith has been handed down, supported by Scripture, and verified by the presence of God in our hearts and lives. Events of 2,000 years ago can be so powerful because of the One who says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
All the online broadcasting of self-enabled chatter is rather overwhelming. How do we make the most of it?
Jesus’ first disciples told only whomever they encountered about a lesson, experience or miracle. Disciples of Jesus now have ways to use technology to share lessons, experiences and miracles with anybody watching online. Jesus didn’t tweet, blog, post, text or ’gram, but His disciples of today do.
We serve Jesus, not technology. May our participation in social media reflect that we are people in the world but not of it. We should be real, but not negative. Have you noticed how much people complain online? It’s like Philippians 2:14 — “do everything without grumbling or arguing” — is suspended as soon as they log in. Authentic joy should be the unseen thread in every post.
Let’s get our identity from Christ, not from a Facebook personality test that tells us which Disney princess we are or what our middle name means in Romulan. We are children of God (Philippians 2:15) in a world gone awry. The people of our world are aching to find their true identity, which can only be found in Jesus Christ
Massive crowds followed Jesus. Children ran to Him. People bared their souls and were remarkably vulnerable.
You might think: “Well, I should craft my online persona to match His” or “what would Jesus tweet?” But Jesus didn’t use nine hacks to a better online presence and He didn’t care about clickable links. His strategy was to spend time daily with the Father. Whatever He said or did poured from a single inspiration: His Dad. That’s how we should live and participate in social media too.
May every message we broadcast have this simple truth at its core: Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Amen.
- Can people easily detect our identity as followers of Christ?
- 2. How can we use social media effectively to spread messages of God’s truth?
R. Adam Davidson is the lead pastor of the Portage (Michigan) Free Methodist Church. Go to radamdavidson.com for more of his writings.